Windows and Doors

This morning’s papers including The New York Daily News, are filled with articles about Madonna, Kabbalah, The Kabbalah Center, and how they are effecting her relationship with baseball star, Alex Rodriguez. Among the charges being made, is that Madonna is “brainwashing” A-Rod with her mystical beliefs.
What do we even mean by “brainwashing”? Too often, especially when it comes to religion, the term brainwashing is applied to any education with an outcome of which we don’t approve. I mean there is no evidence of her depriving him of sleep, threatening his family, etc. of which I am aware. Are you?
There is nothing even shocking about a story in which two people that become romantically involved end up sharing a spiritual path as well. Madonna and A-rod may actually be in love, and if so, it would hardly be the first time that one lover was drawn to the spiritual practice of the other — especially when its an ancient tradition that has brought meaning to lives of thousands of people over the last thousand or more years.
In fact, If we took away the gateway of romance, how many fewer Christians, Jews, Muslims would there be in the world? How many people who started their lives in one church, moved to another based on who was in the pews?

Are you ready for the weekend? A little planning and a few simple practices can help you have a wonderful weekend, or inject a bit of weekend relaxation into the middle of a busy week. And so each Friday, for a while at least, Windows & Doors will include some help in that direction. I introduced this idea last week and include the intro to that post, about the power of buying flowers for a friend, again now.

It’s Friday and if you are like me, and lots of other people, you are already thinking about the weekend. Of course if you hate your job, then you’ve probably been doing that since last Monday, but that’s a whole other conversation. For now though, I want to begin what I hope will be a weekly part of this blog, one which shares a practice that brings a little joy and renewal to our lives, which is what the weekend should be about.
For me, these practices are connected to Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, but they are not only for Jews. They are for anyone who wants tools to help them celebrate their lives and the people in them. In fact, they are not restricted to any particular day of week either. I just think that each of them, if done once a week, will make your life better and happier.

For instance, try cooking with someone you love. Yes, that’s a double entendre, but for the purposes of this post, I mean it literally. And you don’t have to be “a cook” to do this. There is just something amazing about getting into the food with someone you love and producing something that you will share when it’s finished.

How do you get a single item to both shrink and grow at the same time? Ask Barack Obama, who did exactly that when he suggested that the Bush initiatives didn’t go far enough. The expansion comes in his commitment to investing more dollars in faith-based institutions addressing big social and environmental issues.

“The challenges we face today — from saving our planet to ending poverty — are simply too big for government to solve alone,” Mr. Obama said outside a community center here. “We need an all-hands-on-deck approach.”

But it should be precisely the kind of expansion that liberals love, because it comes with the caveat that the “Federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples and mosques can only be used on secular programs.” In fact, Obama would go so far as to revoke the right of those institutions receiving federal money to use religion as a factor in deciding who they hire for such programs. And that is the shrinkage. It would have been nice of him to mention that, when he accused the current administration of not going far enough, when he meant that they went BOTH too far and not far enough.
Either way, his desire to simultaneously expand and contract the federal faith-based initiative is, contrary to Michele McGinty’s post yesterday, a novel and potentially significant thing. Perhaps that is why it bothers her and anyone else who wants a candidate who remains an orthodox liberal.

Something is really off when everyone from CNN (look down to the World section) to the news on the AOL homepage (see the Top News) describe the attack on public bus in Jerusalem as the work of a “terrorist”, using quotes because of their apparent discomfort with calling this an act of terror and labeling this murderer, a terrorist. If that is not terror, what is? And yes, I already imagine the litany of description of Israeli military activity that this question invites. And I have no interest in that debate right now. I want to understand why, even for those who would make such counter charges about Israel, what this man did is not terror.
And the BBC is even worse. Check out the clip that they posted as the news broke, and you will see something disgusting. Not disgusting because of blood and guts, which are happily not to be seen (even this murderer has a family and the pain that they will feel at his loss, should shape the images the press will use). It’s because of their choice to open their video coverage with the smiling face of a bearded skull cap-wearing man with a pistol. They have zero coverage of the damage done, and like all the press this morning, are placing quote marks around the word terrorist when describing the driver who rolled the bus and killed at least three civilians.
I am the last to cry “anti-Semites”, and am not even doing so now. But something here is very wrong and I hope you think so too, whatever your politics may be.